The Sixth Street Bridge

The Sixth Street Bridge
At the tender age of 17, I walked across this bridge, alone, into Downtown Pittsburgh, with $300 in my pocket that my mother had given me to get an abortion. I went into the Fulton Building (in the picture) and did what I was told to do. I didn't have a choice - if I did, I wouldn't have chosen abortion.

Friday, December 9, 2011

My Angel, Grace...

Yet another case study on the mind of a postabortive woman.

When I attended my Rachel's Vineyard retreat about a year and a half ago, I received this little angel.  It's kind of a handmade ornament and very pretty.  One of the suggestions at the retreat was to put it up on your Christmas tree as a memorial to your unborn child who you lost (lost? killed? allow to be taken? sigh....)

At the time it sounded like a good idea.  What I didn't realize when I left my retreat which was mid-summer, was that for the next year - I would be confronted with each and every holiday and milestone now with Grace fully present in my mind.  Like anyone who has lost someone they love, or lost someone and later had regrets about, etc., holidays and other important milestones can royally suck.  I came to realize I had a slew of them on the horizon but I was determined to find a way to have Grace in my mind and memory and take a few moments at each one and remember her in my own way, allow myself to feel the grief I never addressed before, and then move on because that is what I believe she would want me to do.  I often feel as though she doesn't want to look down on me crying and miserable, I like to think she's up there looking down with great excitement and happiness.  When I allow my mind to go to the place where I'm thinking she has to hate me for what I did, I have to talk myself out of it and remind myself that I wasn't in the decision to abort alone - in fact I wasn't part of the decision at all.  And, if Grace is in Heaven - where there is to be no more pain or suffering or sadness, then she has to be looking down on me and my family with joy.  I digress...  I'll blame that discourse on doubt on the Catholic forum I frequent where more than one person was trying to convince other people that babies who die without baptism cannot possibly, under any circumstance be in heaven due to the "rules" and basically labeled PJII a heretic for saying as much in an address to postabortive women.  Can't we all just get along?

Back to the angel... last Christmas, which was the first when I was to memorialize Grace in some way since it was the first Christmas that I was outwardly recognizing her and all that happened to me over 20 years ago, I completely forgot about the angel ornament entirely until after Christmas.  When I was taking the tree down while the kids were at school it hit me, that it was sitting in my nightstand drawer in a box with all my other little treasurers from the retreat. 

What ensued then was what postabortive women go through constantly, for the most part, for their entire lives (much like exhibited in this very post).  A constant battle of wills, good versus evil, self assurance vs. self punishment, belief in God's mercy versus despair.  I'm not sure I'll ever fully win any of these battles to the point where they don't rear their head at some point in time, but I do handle it much better for the most part.  Kind of depends on the day, the moment, the circumstances. This morning, I'm okay with it emotionally.  It's there in the back of my mind.  I'm alone at home now but luckily I have errands to run and things to do to keep my mind off of it.

A friend reminded me that the "enemy" who I'm assuming is the Devil will take every opportunity to screw with people.  He's been screwing with me a lot lately, a whole lot and I'm not sure how to stop it.  How many people have to tell me that aborting Grace was not my fault?  How many times do I have to ask for some sign that I'm forgiven?  How many times will I have to stomp down these doubts? I fear that it will be as many times as I stomped down the sheer thought of Grace for over twenty years as some kind of punishment.  I know in my heart that the smallest of prayers could stop this screwing around with my mind but I won't take a moment to pause and do it which leads to more mind screwing.

I'm hoping that having the courage to bring the little angel down and place it on our beautiful Christmas tree would be the perfect way to end this particular battle, but I hesitate even still.  It's still sitting upstairs - alone.  Tucked away for no one to see, but I know it's there.  Hidden from the world like I've hidden this shame for so long.  What if I put it on the tree and someone asks about it.  Just about all of the ornaments on our tree have a story or some special or sentimental meaning.  My kids for sure will notice and wonder where it came from, where did I get it and why didn't I get them one - which if you have children you know that's usually the next question.  This is one thing I hope they never get. 

And if I put it on the tree - what's going to happen next.  Will it throw me into a tailspin every time I see it, opening presents on Christmas morning with no presents for Grace.  How many Christmases has she missed out on?  What could I possibly give her to make it up to her?

It sounds so stupid when I think about - just put the angel on the tree!  I wonder if anything will be that simple for me?  Here's to courage and hopefully the angel doesn't spend another Christmas in a box. 


  1. I hope you put the angel on the tree. Just say the truth, you received it at a retreat. It's a beautiful ornament. I think it will bring you great comfort to see it on the tree, I really do.

  2. Yes, yes! Put the angel on the tree. I have one from my retreat last year too. And I as well just told my kids they gave everyone them at a retreat. MY kids actually found the angel in my drawer (where I keep a couple personal Christmas decorations that I don't want to get broken) and had put it on the tree unbeknownst to me, and I was a little unsettled when I first saw it, but I told myself, WHY NOT, it represents my baby. After we took the tree down last year, I put the angel in my purse and have hauled it around with me for the last 340+ days. When it came time to decorate the tree again this year, my kids actually asked where the angel was, and then my husband ribbed me about keeping it in my purse all year. But it made me feel so good seeing it on the tree! So I hope you put yours up!

    And you are right - "hate" doesn't exist in heaven; Grace doesn't hate you, she isn't able to. When I find myself thinking "she should be here with me doing X," I do X with my kids (or even just alone - for some reason my kids don't like singing Christmas songs in the car with me). And it does help, for me.

  3. Anonymous has a wonderful idea for a reply- truthful, but only as much as anyone needs to know.
    But- you know yourself better than anyone else. Not every recommended step is right for every person. They are options, for you to choose (or not) as you think and feel best.

  4. I hung my angel on a picture frame with my two living children's pictures. It is on my mantel and it gives me comfort. I pray you find comfort too. God Bless you dear.

  5. I know in my heart that the smallest of prayers could stop this screwing around with my mind but I won't take a moment to pause and do it which leads to more mind screwing.

    why do we do this?

  6. I know why I do it... because I can. Because it lets me off the hook. Because it gives me a reason to sulk and be miserable and retreat from all that is good in my life. I have to force myself and it's sometimes easy, sometimes painful, to ask for help. Just a word if that's all you can manage, just one word offered to Him! Peace. Help. Jesus. Pick one and just say it one time, then another, and another and another.